Flying Gecko Phylogenetics
The flap-legged and parachute geckos (or flying geckos) of the genera Luperosaurus and Ptychozoon are some of Southeast Asia’s most rare and enigmatic land vertebrates. The phylogenetic relationships of Luperosaurus, Ptychozoon, and related genera such as Lepidodactylus and Gekko remain unclear. In particular, the phylogenetic placement of the morphologically intermediate taxa Ptychozoon rhacophorus, Luperosaurus iskandari, and L. gulat are complicated and confusing. Previous results based on mtDNA and one nuclear locus demonstrated that Luperosaurus is more closely related to Lepidodactylus and Pseudogekko than it is to Gekko but that some species currently classified as Luperosaurus are nested within Gekko.
Xianguang and collaborators are attempting to resolve a stubborn polytomy consisting of several clades assigned to the genus Ptychozoon using target capture with ultraconserved elements (UCEs) and Illumina sequencing. Xianguang's work also focuses on determining the phylogenetic placements of key enigmatic taxa:L. gulag L. iskandari and P. rhacophorus. Recently, ultraconserved elements (UCEs) have been used successfully to resolve challenging phylogenetic relationships among basal avian and mammalian groups, to determine the phylogenetic position of turtles among reptiles, and to understand the relationships among ray-finned fishes.